“Just think of what these freshman and sophomores are going to be like in March” – Rick Pitino on the Post-Game Show with Bob Valvano.
Winning on the road in the ACC isn’t easy. We’ve seen Virginia Tech take down #4 Virginia & NC State, Clemson beat Florida State so far in ACC play. All upsets happening in the underdogs home. So beating Ken Pom’s #73 team on the road is nothing to casually shrug off.
Sure the Cards led by 16 with 3:38 remaining and then the BIZARRE end of the game events started and Louisville had to hang on to win. Jaylen Johnson had walked to the wrong bench about a minute earlier. But the final 3:38 was just WILD:
-Anas Mahmoud foul giving Abdul-Malik Abu a +1, made FT
-Anas Mahmoud block, Lennard Freeman Offensive Rebound led to a Caleb Martin 3-Pointer
-Quentin Snider Missed Front End of 1 & 1
-Shot Clock Violation – One Second Sooner would have been a bucket
-Caleb Martin makes quick 3, tightly contested by Trey Lewis
-Jaylen Johnson Missed Dunk
-After a Missed 3 ANOTHER Offensive Rebound for NC State, Maverick Rowan was bumped, no call and missed the layup.
-In Transistion after the missed Rowan lay-up, Quentin Snider threw the ball away (turnover was credited to Donovan Mitchell for some reason) giving NC State the ball……Maverick Rowan NAILED a 3 right in the face of Chinanu Onuaku.
-Then up 4 Damion Lee takes (and makes) a layup with 31 seconds remaining. Not sure why he shot so quickly.
-Cat Barber layup, Cards were not going to foul him.
-With 20.9 seconds, NC State had too many players on the floor. Louisville had to use Timeout. Should have been a technical.
-Holding foul before inbounds on Lennard Freeman sent Jaylen Johnson to the line. He hit both.
-Then Cat Barber went hard to the lane, hit a layup and Trey Lewis fouled him for a +1. Made FT
-A foul before inbounds AGAIN sent Damion Lee a 90% Free Throw Shooter to the Line…… he missed both.
-Cat Barber went to lane, found a brick wall in Chinanu Onuaku. Ball was called off Quentin Snider, reviewed and was off Barber.
-With 7 seconds left, Damion Lee was fouled, hit both. Game Over.
What a wild game.
Pitino With Bob Valvano
But back to what Rick Pitino said on his post-game show with Bob Valvano: Just think of what these freshman and sophomores are going to be like in March.
OK. Let’s think about that. Quentin Snider came off the bench last night 21 points, 7-11, 4-6 from 3. WOW. Ray Spalding played 19 minutes, was 6-8, got a steal, grabbed two boards and had 12 points. Deng Adel played just 7 minutes and we assume that he’s still recovering from a knee injury. Anas Mahmoud also played 7 minutes and is slowly returning after his ankle injury. Matz Stockman is going to continue to get spot time and the thing that is great about Matz is that he’s not timid. Stockman may not be flashy, but at least he isn’t shy. Perfect for a guy playing a limited role. Jaylen Johnson with 8 points & 7 rebounds was AS SOLID AS YOU CAN BE. Chinanu Onuaku with 12 points & 14 rebounds MAKES THIS TEAM MAXIMIZE ITS POTENTIAL. And Donovan Mitchell…..4 assists and though it wasn’t his best game the freshman has intelligence that matches his athleticism.
So yeah, when Louisville gets these freshman and sophomores to March, it’s game on. But for now Louisville has an ACC Championship to go after. How do they get better?
-Quentin Snider needs to grab a few rebounds and needs to assert himself each night. He’s unstoppable around the foul line.
-Ray Spalding needs to understand the defense better, do more work on glass, keep getting deflections and watch how Montrezl Harrell was able to create space around the block. Lob City. Deflection City. Ray Spalding has the most potential of any Cardinal.
-Deng Adel needs more minutes. And the confidence to play without the knee brace. His ability to drive the lane and get to the free throw line is HUGE and his defense & length can be a major asset.
-Anas Mahmoud must have had a bad ankle sprain. Still, we’ve seen flashes of greatness for nearly two years now from Mahmoud, if the light ever stays on for the Louisville Pharaoh he really could be King.
-As we mentioned above Matz Stockman plays aggressive. His ball handling could be better but he plays solid defense and brings great energy. Matz needs polish.
-Jaylen Johnson needs to just continue to be consistent. I’ll take 8 points and 7 boards from JJ every night. He’s becoming more and more dependable. That’s huge.
-Donovan Mitchell didn’t have his best effort vs. NC State, but his confidence is unshakable. He’ll make freshman errors, but he’s another player that is lethal around the foul line and his aggressiveness in rebounding is a huge asset. Donovan needs to play less defense with his hands so he can stay on the floor longer.
-Chinanu Onuaku has really surprised this year. We heard it from scouts throughout the off-season, but it’s real. Nanu makes Louisville go. He needs to eliminate the moving screen & offensive fouls but it’s hard to be critical of anything else he’s doing. Free Throws are Free Throws.
Getting Mangok Back & Every One Else Into Good Shape
The way Louisville plays with Onuaku on the floor is tremendous. When he’s not out there the drop off is noticeable and that wasn’t the case when Pitino had Mangok Mathiang to go to. Right now it looks like Mangok will return at the end of January or beginning of February: 1/30 vs. Virginia, 2/1 vs. North Carolina OR 2/6 vs. Boston College.
In the meantime the Cards must travel to Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and must host Pitt & Florida State until Mangok’s return.
The Cards would also be much better off with a healthy Trey Lewis, Deng Adel and Anas Mahmoud. Lewis was not sharp on Thursday night and Deng Adel has not looked the same since his injury. Anas Mahmoud is always playing a game of confidence and it stands to reason that the better he feels the better he will play. Louisville has these players available but the overall production will increase as they become more healthy.